Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

January 15, 2017

Large-billed Crow and Coal Tit

Filed under: Birds,Japan — Tags: — steve_happ @ 8:22 am

Hokkaido Birding.

I went for another walk down to the river at Furano today. I was looking for the Large-billed Crow, Brown-eared Bulbul and White-tailed Eagle. I have video’ed these birds many years before but did not have photos of them.

Large-billed Crow
Large-billed Crow ( Corvus macrorhynchos)

I dipped out on the Brown-eared Bulbul and White-tailed Eagle. But I have seen them around here. I just have to be patient. The crow was on the tree right next to the hostel. They are quite common here. The only problem was it was freezing cold. One of the guys said it was minus twenty today. I had to take photos with my gloves on.

Coal Tit
Coal Tit (Periparus ater)

I had no idea which tit it was at first and had to go to the internet for some help with identification. I am reasonably sure I have got the identification right on this one.

Coal Tit
Coal Tit (Periparus ater)

Many thanks to for the identification help. There is a brilliant search engine on there. Seriously fabulous.

January 10, 2017

Snow Clearing in Japan

Filed under: Japan — Tags: , — steve_happ @ 5:02 am

Furano, Hokkaido.

It was a great morning skiing today in Furano. About 10-20 cms of fresh powder snow. I gave it a good shake until I started aching in my bones so I came in for lunch. Whilst having my standard hakusai, moyashi and egg sandwichi, I spotted the snow clearing going on. I love all the snow clearing machinery. So I grabbed the point and shoot and rushed out onto the road to take some photos of the wonderful machines.

back hoe
Back Hoe.

After chomping off big chunks of snow wall along the road, the snow muncher/blower goes back up the road while the other machines push more snow onto the road. The back hoe pulls it onto the road from the sides.


The grader scoops it up into neat piles.

front-end loader
Front-end Loader.

And the front-end loader cleans up more snow from the sides.

snow muncher
Snow muncher/blower

December 31, 2016

Portraits and a bird

Filed under: Japan — Tags: — steve_happ @ 5:21 am

Furano, Hokkaido

It is the last day of the year. This morning I took some portrait shots of the guests at the hostel at which I am staying. The first one is of Yong, from Korea. He is a fantastic photographer.


Ben just gave himself a mohawk last night. He looks the part of badass backcountry snowboarder.


And my good friend Rohan. From New Zealand.


After breakfast, I took off down the snowy road towards the river. I was hoping for White-tailed Eagles and Large-billed Crows, but alas, never saw them. The walk along the Sorachi River was quite refreshing and brisk.

Sorachi River
Sorachi River

I saw one bird. And I could not positively identify it. doh! Was it a Willow Tit (Poecile montanus)? possibly. MARSH TIT ? no. Coal Tit ? no.

Willow Tit , maybe
Willow Tit (Poecile montanus)?

According to Lizzie Harper: “The Willow tit is a slightly yellower grey-brown than the Marsh tit, and its black cap extends further down its neck. It also has a black bib, but this tends to be messier than that of the Marsh tit. It also has a pale panel on the wing which is lacking in both its cousin and my illustration. It’s chest and stomach are slightly less pale than the Marsh tit.”

December 23, 2016

Furano, Hokkaido Ice Bar

Filed under: Japan — Tags: , — steve_happ @ 11:46 am

Kan Kan Mura.

It has been snowing since yesterday. The lifts were all closed today because of the high winds. Hoping for some skiing time at Furano tomorrow. The boss invited the boys at the hostel to the opening of his ice bar at Kan Kan Mura, which is just below the Furano Ropeway.

alex and yosta
Alex and Yosta before the event.

Futoshi the boss took us in his Toyota Hi-ace. The roads are all covered in snow and it was an adventure-filled ride.


We had some drinks at the ice bar, then went for a wander around to see the sights.

ice bar
Ice Bar.

Someone had made a teepee out of plastic and put coloured lights inside. It looked pretty fabulous.

snow teepee
Coloured Snow Teepee.

The trees were all lit up by coloured lights as well.

lit up tree
Lit-up tree

Thank you very much Futoshi-san for taking us to the ice bar. πŸ™‚

December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve Skiing

Filed under: Japan — Tags: , , — steve_happ @ 4:42 am

Niseko, Hirafu.

There was more snow last night, probably about ten to twenty centimeters. I am still taking it easy and trying to get my legs fit for skiing. But they are really hurting at the moment.

First run down the super

I took these shots from the Ace Quad number two chairlift of the first skiers shooting down the Super run. It gets chopped out really quickly.

Another punter down the super run

And here is the archetypal shot of Mount Yotei in between some of the lodges near the Ace Family lift.

Mount Yotei

December 22, 2013

First Day Skiing

Filed under: Japan — Tags: , , — steve_happ @ 12:06 pm

Hirafu, Niseko

This was my first day skiing today. I took it very easy, getting my legs in and my balance. All these photos are by my friend Tai.

Me and my friend Tai

There was about ten centimeters of fresh snow but it was icy and hard underneath it.

On the piste at Hirafu

I HATE skiing

It is just so exhausting

March 16, 2013

Hokkaido Airport Bus

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — steve_happ @ 2:03 pm

A Busted Fan Belt.

We were heading towards the airport from Niseko, just near the intersection of Routes 97 and 276, About ten kilometers from Kutchan. The bus stopped. I hopped out to have a look around and take some photos. The fan belt was broken.

broken fan belt
The broken fan belt.

A few of the passengers were about to start panicking because they had flights around one o’clock. This is the bus.

Hokkaido bus
The bus

Some guy from the bus stop rang up to see about getting the bus fixed up.

Ringing for repairs
Ringing up for repairs

Another guy inspects the belt. The radiator was getting a bit hot by this stage.

Hmm this belt is stuffed
Inspecting the fan belt.

Everyone stuck their heads into the motor to check it out.

Inspecting the motor
Checking out the motor

Finally the bus driver got some electrical tape and wound it around the belt and put the belt back on. I was totally skeptical and thought it would not last five minutes, if that. We got going and it lasted about half an hour before it came off and we stopped because the water temperature was getting very hot. The bus driver put the belt on again and we repeated the process a few times until a bus stopped behind us with a new belt. They put it on after some hilarious hijinx and we finally made it to the airport. What an adventure!

March 2, 2013

Ranshima Beach

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — steve_happ @ 12:43 am

Hokkaido Birding 2013.

Yesterday I decided to have a day off from the ski resort and go to Ranshima Beach and hopefully to see the beach covered in snow and maybe photograph a couple of birds I had not seen before. I set off about 9am on the bus to Kutchan and then had to catch the Otaru train. When I got off the train, the station was deserted so I walked down the road towards the beach.

Ranshima Beach 3
Ranshima Beach looking South

When I reached the road along the beach, I could not get onto it because there was about a meter of snow covering it. So I had to walk along the road until I found a track that took me onto the beach. There was some black sand where the tide had come up but the rest of the beach was covered in snow. That was different.

Ranshima Beach 2
Ranshima Beach looking north

There were a few boats at the end of the beach all covered in snow but it was deserted. No-one around at all. I guess the fishing is not so good at this time of year!

Ranshima Beach 1
Coastal cliffs

Towards the south, there are some big cliffs that drop straight into the sea, all covered in snow.

Slaty-backed Gull
Slaty-backed Gull (Larus schistisagus)

I think these are Slaty-backed Gulls. There a few gulls up here that are very similar, but this is my best guess.

Carrion Crow
Carrion Crow (Corvus corone)

I was hoping to see some Large-billed Crows but this is all they had. Unfortunate name. πŸ™

Goosander (Mergus merganser)

They are called Goosander in Asia and in North America they are known as the Common Merganser.

Japanese Tit
Japanese Tit (Parus minor)

The Japanese Tit are a tiny DNA permutation away from the Great Tit, which extends their range to somewhere like Siberia.

Harlequin Duck
Harlequin Duck (Histrionicus histrionicus)

Ranshima Beach bird list

Slaty-backed Gull (Larus schistisgus)
Carrion Crow (Corvus corone)
Goosander (Mergus merganser)
Harlequin Duck (Histrionicus histrionicus)
Japanese Tit (Parus minor)

February 13, 2013

Niseko warms up

Filed under: Japan — Tags: , , — steve_happ @ 1:42 pm

Early spring in Hirafu.

This morning I was very tired after a few mornings in a row of fresh powder. There was no new snow so we went up the mountain to take some photos.

Alex turns Miharashi
Alex turns at Miharashi woods

The first run we had down Miharashi woods. The snow was mostly chopped out and there were bits and pieces of soft wettish snow around. Alex and Andreas went over a bit of a jump but Andreas did a back slap.

Alex jumps Miharashi
Alex makes the jump at Miharashi Woods

After a few runs down Miharashi, we went to waterfall. Alex went over a jump there a few times. The snow was even wetter and heavier here. I had to take off most of my t-shirts it was so hot. I was steaming up my goggles I was sweating so much.

Alex jumps waterfall
Alex stomps Waterfall

February 9, 2013

Rusutsu Merry Go Round

Filed under: Japan — Tags: , , — steve_happ @ 11:29 am

Rusutsu Ski Resort.

We went skiing today to Rusutsu. There had been about thirty centimeters of fresh powder and the tree skiing was awesome. But it was too much fun to stop and take any photos. So at the end of the day, the kids had a go on the merry go round at the hotel.

Ange is having fun
Ange having lots of fun

Dane rides a pig
Dano is very excited

There was also a talking tree and an excellent play area for the kids. In the summer time, I think they open up the rides such as roller coaster and a water slide.

Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress